Moving to South America to Work: How to Do It Right

Moving to South America is an interesting opportunity for many. Whether you’re a digital nomad looking to switch places, or you just got a great job opportunity that requires you to move there, it’s going to give you the chance to get introduced to a new culture and learn a lot of things.

Machu Picchu
And while our first tip would be to get some Spanish lessons or you can even hire a Spanish tutor to learn some basic Spanish phrases way faster. There are a few other things that you should be taking care of to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.

Make Sure Your Budget Is Alright

You’ve undoubtedly heard of many people moving to South America because the cost of living is a bit cheaper. However, the truth is that many areas aren’t as affordable as they were a few years ago. Yes, you can still find an affordable living situation in cities such as Medellin or Puebla, but living in Rio de Janeiro or Santiago might get just as expensive as the United States.

A good thing to do, for starters, is to have a backup fund with enough money in it for a plane ticket home, and three months of living without any income. Base this on the cost of living in the city you’ll be in. If you’re moving to South America to work, this might not be that much of a problem, but it’s still a good failsafe. 

Ensure Your Documents Are All Good

Even though this is something that your employer will be taking care of, at least the visa, it’s always good to know what you’re getting into and be sure that you’re covered. When you’re applying for a work visa, your prospective employer should give you a job offer or an employment contract.

Note that applying for a work visa is usually done in your home country, in the consulate, and not in the country you’ll be working in.

A work visa will also require a vast variety of notarized documents that you obtain in your home country, so being at home makes this part easier. 

Find Yourself a Good Accommodation

Unless your job has found you a place to stay while you’re in South America, you should expect to spend a couple of weeks in a hostel, or an Airbnb, while you’re looking for a good place to stay. And use those couple of weeks to explore all the neighborhoods you might be living in.

Don’t just go through them quickly. Instead, commit to spending an entire day in a neighborhood that interests you. See how things stand in terms of grocery stores, nightlife, safety, public transportation, and all the other things you will need while you’re living there. These aren’t things you can see in ten minutes, so make sure you dedicate enough time. 

Make a Few Friends Along the Way

If you’re moving to South America to work, chances are you’ll be forced to leave your friends at home, and you may very well be alone. You could have a colleague or two come with you, but that’s not always the case, and having friends in your new home is always useful.

The easiest way to do so is to find an activity you love and join a group that does it fairly often. For example, you could take a look at cycling. Not only is it something you can easily fall in love with, but it’s an excellent group activity that’s going to introduce you to fellow cyclists. It’s also one that will show you all the beautiful places in and around the city you’re living in, and from a fresh new perspective. 

If you can’t find a group that does the activity you like, there’s always the option to try and organize that yourself. You could try it with your colleagues at your new office, or you could try it with that neighbor you know has a nice bike and rides often. 

Get Comfortable

This is something that’s going to happen eventually as you live in South America. There’s no denying that some of the places there, have a specific culture and you might find it hard to adjust at first. However, if you’re there to work, you’ll undoubtedly meet new people, which will introduce you to all the things that you can do in your new home.

As time passes, you’ll get comfortable in your new environment, and that initial culture shock is going to disappear. Before you know it, you’ll be living and working in South America, and feeling like you’re at home. 


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